Monday, April 27, 2015

Ask Linda #1048-Two balls collide


This just happened the other night. Two balls in motion collided. My understanding is that this scenario is covered under USGA Rule 19-5b. However just to clarify, one ball was played from off the green (from the fringe) the other ball was played from on the green. This was stroke play and the ball putted from off the green after collision went into the hole. The other ball stopped close to the hole.

The ball played from off the green (on the fringe) was struck first. However, it was pretty close in timing. The ball off the green was definitely further away, so the ball on the green was played out of turn. This was not match play rather it was stroke play, so I do not believe playing out of turn is an issue other than maybe a breach of course etiquette. I have never seen anything like this and I truly believe both balls would have been holed out as they collided in motion over the hole.

What is the correct ruling here? My thought is that the ball in motion played from off the green is considered holed out and the ball played from on the green is played as it lies and incurs a two-stroke penalty.

I would be interested to know if the ruling differs under Match Play.

Thanks in advance for your comments.
Lou from Michigan

Dear Lou,

There is no penalty to either player.

When a player hits a ball from off the green and it strikes another ball that was also in motion, the player must play the ball as it lies [Rule 19-5b]. Thus, the player who hit his ball from the fringe has holed his ball (a lucky ricochet off the other fellow’s moving putt).

The player who putted from on the green will have his stroke canceled. He must replace and replay his putt. Do not count the original putt and do not assess a penalty [Rule 19-5b, second paragraph].

Both rulings are the same for match play, since the player who hit first was further away from the hole. If his ball had been closer to the hole, his opponent would have the option to recall the stroke (cancel and replay), since he played out of turn. Considering that the ball from the fringe was holed, recalling the stroke if it was hit out of turn would be a no-brainer.

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